In 2009, New Orleans Airlift was founded by musician and artist manager Jay Pennington and multi-media installation artist Delaney Martin as an artist-driven collaborative initiative to inspire wonder, connect communities, and foster opportunities through education and the creation of experimental public artworks in the city of New Orleans and across the globe. In honor of New Orleans Airlift’s tenth anniversary, the CAC presents the installation From New Water Music, which includes remaindered materials and excerpted sound recordings from Airlift’s April 8, 2017 performance, New Water Music.
The original free, public performance on Lake Pontchartrain of composer Yotam Haber’s score took inspiration from Handel’s Water Music, famously performed on the River Thames for King George I in 1717. Conceived and executed by New Orleans Airlift, New Water Music was performed from the water by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and hundreds of community musicians in a spectacular choreographed visual presentation. Conducting with naval semaphore flags and in occasional Morse Code from the shore, Haber paid tribute to traditional Louisiana music, including Cajun accordion and African-American spirituals.
In the regatta beyond, a procession of fishing boats and vessels unfolded under the artist direction of New Orleans Airlift’s Delaney Martin. For months Martin worked with teams of artists and designers to create over three hundred costume pieces and original flag designs for musicians, participants, and shrimp and oyster boats. New Water Music was at once an art and music performance and an orchestration of so many who work daily on the frontline of our coastal crisis, including fisherman, environmental organizations, and members of the Houma Nation. The CAC is proud to present this installation as an incomplete history of a cultural institution, whose complex practice spans disciplines and boundaries.
This exhibition is organized by the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC), New Orleans, and curated by Andrea Andersson, PhD, The Helis Foundation Chief Curator of Visual Arts at the CAC. The exhibition is supported by The Helis Foundation & Sydney & Walda Besthoff. Additional funding is provided by the Visual Arts Exhibition Fund with generous contributions from The Azby Fund, Bryan Bailey, Valerie Besthoff, Walda & Sydney Besthoff, The Domain Companies, Anna & Scott Dunbar, Kendall Winingder and Patrick Schindler, Aimée & Mike Siegel, and anonymous donors. This exhibition is also supported in part by a Community Arts Grant made possible by the City of New Orleans as well as by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a Federal agency.